Trump administration to halt imports from Malaysian palm oil company over forced labor allegations

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The Trump administration said Wednesday that it would block imports of palm oil from a second Malaysian company as part of its efforts to crack down on forced labor in the industry.

A withhold release order posted on CBP’s website stated that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials would have the authority to detain any shipments imported from the Sime Darby Plantation Berhad.

“The CBP’s news release does not provide sufficient information to allow SDP to meaningfully address the allegations that triggered the issuance of the Withhold Release Order. Nevertheless, we look forward to receiving pertinent information and working with CBP in order to address their concerns and quickly resolve this matter,” Sime Darby plantation said in part in a statement posted on its website.

Palm oil is a highly common substance found in many beauty supplies, cleaning substances, foods and other products. The U.S. imported more than $48 million worth of palm oil in October along. In a statement, a CBP official told CNN that a months-long investigation into the company had turned up instances of “physical violence, sexual violence, [and] intimidation” of workers at the plantation.

“Palm oil is an ingredient in a lot of products that American consumers buy and use. And I think it’s important for manufacturers and importers to be aware of where they’re at higher risk of forced labor, and to demand that their suppliers are adhering to protecting human rights of their workers,” Ana Hinojosa, director of CBP’s Trade Remedy Law Enforcement Directorate, told CNN.

“One thing that we sometimes get asked is, ‘Is this going to go away with the change of administration?’, and I would have to say that this is an issue that is cross cutting and is very bipartisan,” Hinojosa continued.

A previous CBP withhold release order issued in September targeted FGV Holdings Berhad, a Malaysian company involved in palm oil and rubber plantations.


Tags CBP Customs and Border Protection Human rights Labor rights Malaysia palm oil

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